tv Fast Money Halftime Report CNBC November 14, 2013 12:00pm-1:01pm EST
fomc fill out a survey and indicate what they think the normal longer-run level of unemployment is. and in our most recent survey in september, the range of opinion was 5% to 6%. >> okay. and tell me, what do you believe the real unemployment rate is today. >> well, the measured unemployment rate is 7. -- >> i know the measured unemployment rate. >> but as we've -- >> -- not the question. >> -- discussed previously, we have very high incidence of involuntary part-time employment. we have all too many people who appear to have dropped out of the labor force. >> would you -- >> -- discouraged -- >> i don't want to belabor this committee hearing any longer than what i have to. would you agree that it is at least close to or probably over 10%? >> well, certainly by broader measures, it is that high. >> okay. and would you also agree that right now in america, we have
the greatest income disparity that we have had since the great depression, right before the great depression? >> we've had widening wage inequality and income inequality in this country going back to the mid to late '80s, and that continues. >> yeah. so i just want to take a moment to speak for maybe those folks who are on the lower end, who look at the fed policy and look at the stock market, don't have a stake, as they see it, as you just explained to senator johanns. we all have a stake in the economy. but day to day, they don't see their economic condition getting any better. and certainly, they don't see their employment opportunities getting any better, especially for those with low job skills. i won't say low education, but low job skills. so what can you do, or what have you done to address income disparity, unemployment disparity in this country, and
what would you suggest that the fed pursue to avoid the conis he quinces long term of that income disparity? >> sure, i think you're asking about something that is a very deep problem that's afflicted the u.s. economy and other advanced economies. economists who've spent a lot of time trying to understand what's responsible for widening inequality, and many of the underlying factors are things that are outside of the federal reserve's ability to address. >> do you believe your policies have added to the problem? >> i believe that the policies we've undertaken have been meant to generate a robust recovery. i would like to see the u.s. economy and the job market recovering more rapidly than they are, but i believe our
policies have helped. and i think as we saw -- >> heidi heitkamp of north dakota doing some of the final questioning of janet yellen in front of the senate banking committee. in the meantime, we are about to see the president of the united states take the lectern. here he is. >> good afternoon. today, i want to update the american people on our interests to implement and improve the affordable care act, and i'll take a couple of your questions. but before i do, i want to say a few words about the tragedy that's unfolded in the philippines. over the past few days, i think all of us have been shaken of the images of the devastation wrought by typhoon haiyan. it's a heartbreaking reminder of how fragile life is, and among the dead are several americans. so our prayers are with the filipino people and with filipino-americans across the country, who are anxious about their family and friends back home. one of our core principles is when friends are in trouble, america helps.
as i've told president akino earlier this week, the united states will continue to offer whatever assistance we can. our military personnel and u.s. a.i.d. team do this better than anybody else in the world, and they've already been on the ground working tirelessly to deliver food, water, medicine, shelter, and to help with airlift. today, the aircraft carrier "uss george washington" and other ships arrived to help with search and rescue, as well as supplies, medical care, and logistical support. and more help is on the way. america's strength, of course, has always been more than just about what our government can do, it's also about what our citizens can do. it's about the big heartedness of the american people when they see other folks in trouble. so today, i would encourage everybody who wants to help, to visit whitehouse.gov/typhoon. that's whitehouse.gov/typhoon, and that will offer you links to
organizations working on the ground in ways you can support their efforts. our friends in the philippines will face a long, hard road ahead, but they'll continue to have a friend and partner in the united states of america. now, switching gears. it has now been six weeks since the affordable care act's new marketplaces opened for business. i think it's fair to say that the rollout has been rough so far. and i think everybody understands that i'm not happy about the fact that the rollout has been, you know, wrought with a whole range of problems that i've been deeply concerned about. but today, i want to talk about what we know after these first few weeks, and what we're doing to implement and improve the law. yesterday the white house announced that in the first month, more than 100,000 americans successfully enrolled in new insurance plans. is that as high a number as we'd like? absolutely not.
but it does mean that people want affordable health care. the problems of the website have prevented too many americans from completing the enrollment process, and that's on us, not on them. but there's no question that there's real demand for quality, affordable health insurance. in the first month, nearly a million people successfully completed an application for themselves or their families. those applications represent more than 1.5 million people. of those 1.5 million people, 106,000 of them have successfully signed up to get covered. another 396,000 have the ability to gain access to medicaid under the affordable care act. that's been less reported on, but it shouldn't be. you know, americans who are having a difficult time, who are poor, many of them working, may have a disability, they're americans like everybody else, and the fact that they are now
able to get insurance will be critically important. later today, i'll be in ohio where governor kasich, a republican, has expanded medicaid under the affordable care act, and as many as 275,000 ohioans will ultimately be better off because of it. if every governor followed suit, another 5.4 million americans could gain access to health care next year. so, bottom line is, in just one month, despite all of the problems that we've seen with the website, more than 500,000 americans could know the security of health care by january 1st. many of them for the first time in their lives. and that's life-changing. and it's significant. that still leaves about 1 million americans who successfully made it through the website, now qualified to buy insurance, but haven't picked a plan yet. and there's no question that if the website were working as it's supposed to, that number would be much higher of people who've actually enrolled. so that's problem number one.
making sure that the website works the way it's supposed to. it's gotten a lot better over the last few weeks than it was on the first day. but we're working 24/7 to get it working for the vast majority of americans in a smooth, consistent way. the other problem that has received a lot of attention concerns americans who've received letters from their insurers that they may be losing the plans they bought in the old individual market, often because they no longer meet the law's requirements to cover basic benefits like prescription drugs or doctors' visits. as i indicated earlier, i completely get how upsetting this could be for a lot of americans, particularly afteras that if they had a plan that they liked, they could keep it. and to those americans, i hear you loud and clear. i said that i would do everything we can to fix this problem, and today, i'm offering an idea that will help do it.
already people who have plans that predate the affordable care act can keep those plans if they haven't changed. that was already in the law. that's what's called a grandfather clause, it was included in the law. today, we're going to extend that principle both to people whose plans have changed since the law took effect and to people who bought plans since the law took effect. so state insurance commissioners still have the power to decide what plans can and can't be sold in their states, but the bottom line is, insurers can extend current plans that would otherwise be cancelled into 2014, and americans whose plans have been cancelled can choose to reenroll in the same kind of plan. we're also requiring insurers to extend current plans to inform their customers about two things. one, that protections -- what protections these renewed plans don't include. number two, that the marketplace offers new options with better
coverage and tax credits that might help you bring down the costs. so if you received one of these letters, i'd encourage you to take a look at the marketplace. even if the website isn't working as smoothly as it should be for everybody yet, the plan comparison tool that lets you browse costs for new plans near you is working just fine. now, this fix won't solve every problem for every person, but it's going to help a lot of people. doing more will require work with congress, and i've said from the beginning, i'm willing to work with democrats and republicans to fix problems as they arise. this is an example of what i was talking about. we can always make this law work better. it is important to understand, though, that the old individual market was not working well. and it's important that we don't pretend that somehow that's a place worth going back to.
too often it works fine as long as you stay healthy. it doesn't work well when you're sick. so year after year, americans were routinely exposed to financial ruin or denied coverage due to minor pre-existing conditions, or dropped from coverage altogether, even if they paid their premiums on time. that's one of the reasons we pursued this reform in the first place. and that's why i will not accept proposals that are just another attempt to undermind or repeal the law and drag us back into a broken system. we'll continue to make the case even for folks who choose to keep their own plans, that they should shop around in the new marketplace, because there's a chance they'll be able to buy better insurance at lower costs. so we're going to do everything we can to help the americans who have received the cancellation notices. but i also want everybody to remember there are still 40 million americans who don't have health insurance at all. i'm not going to walk away from 40 million people who have the chance to get health insurance
for the first time, and i'm not going to walk away from something that's helped the cost of health care grow at its slowest rate in 50 years. so we're at the opening weeks of the project to build a better health care system for everybody, a system that will offer real financial security and peace of mind to millions of americans. it is a complex process. there are all kinds of challenges. i'm sure there will be additional challenges that come up. and it's important that we're honest and straightforward in terms when we come up with a problem with these reforms and these laws that we address them. but we've got to move forward on this. it took 100 years for us to even get to the point where we could start talking about it and implementing a law to make sure everybody has health insurance. and my pledge to the american people is that we're going to solve the problems that are there, we're going to get it right, and the affordable care
act is going to work for the american people. so with that, i'm going to take your questions and i'll start with julie pace of a.p. >> thank you, mr. president. the combination of the website problems and the concerns over the policy cancellations has sparked a lot of worry within your own party. >> right. >> and polls also show you're taking some hits with the public on both your overall job approval rating and also on factors like trust and honesty. >> right. >> do you feel as though the flawed health carrollout has led to a breach in the public trust in confidence, and if so, how do you plan to resolve that? >> there's no doubt that people are frustrated. we just came out of a shutdown, and the possibility that for the first time in over 200 years we wouldn't pay our bills. and people breathed a sigh of relief when that finally got down, and the next thing they know is, is that the president's health care reform can't get the website to work. and that these other problems
with respect to cancellation notices. you know, i understand why folks are frustrated. i would be, too. because sometimes, you know, people look at what's taking place in washington, and they say not enough is getting done that helps me with my life. and, you know, regardless of what congress does, ultimately i'm the president of the united states, and they expect me to do something about it. so in terms of how i intend to approach it, i'm just going to keep on working as hard as i can around the priorities that the american people care about. and i think it's legitimate for them to expect me to have to win back some credibility on this health care law, in particular, and on a whole range of these issues in general. and, you know, that's on me. i mean, we fumbled the rollout
on this health care law. there are a whole bunch of things about it that are working really well, which people didn't notice. all right? because they weren't controversial. so making sure kids could stay on their parents' plans until they were -- up through the age of 25. and making sure that seniors got more discounts on their prescription drugs. a whole bunch of stuff that we did well over the first three years. but we always knew that these marketplaces creating a place where people can shop and through competition get a better deal for the health insurance that their families need. we always knew that that was going to be complicated and everybody would be paying a lot of attention to it, and we should have done a better job getting that right on day one. not on day 28 or on day 40. i am confident that by the time
we look back on this next year, that people are going to say this is working well, and it's helping a lot of people. but my intention in terms of winning back the confidence of the american people is just to work as hard as i can, identify the problems that we've got, make sure that we're fixing them, whether it's a website, whether it is making sure that folks who got the cancellation notices get help, we're just going to keep on chipping away at this until the job is done. major garrett? >> thank you, mr. president. you said while the law was being debated, if you like your plan, you can keep it. you said after the law was implemented or signed, if you like your plan, you can keep it. americans believed you, sir, when you said that to them over and over. >> right. >> do you not believe, sir, the american people deserve a deeper, more transparent accountability from you as to why you said that over and over,
when your own statistics published in the "federal register" alerted the policy staff, and i presume you, millions of americans would, in fact, probably fall into the very gap you're trying to administratively fix now? that's one question. the second question. [ laughter ] you were informed, or several people in this building were informed, two weeks before the launch of the website, it was failing the most basic tests internally, and yet a decision was made to launch on october 1st. did you make that test, and if so, did you regret it? >> okay, on the website, i was not informed directly. that the website would not be working. the way it was supposed to. had it been informed, i wouldn't be going out saying, "boy, this is going to be great." i'm accused of a lot of things, but i don't think i'm stupid enough to go around saying "this is going to be like shopping on amazon or travelocity a week before the website opens" if i thought it wasn't going to work.
so clearly, we -- and i -- did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website. even a week into it, the thinking was that these were some glitches that would be fixed with patches, as opposed to some broader systemic problems that took much longer to fix and we're still working on them. you know, that doesn't excuse the fact that they just don't work, but i think it's fair to say that, no, garrett, major, we would not have rolled out something knowing very well it wasn't going to work the way it was supposed to, given all of the scrutiny we knew would be on the website. with respect to the pledge i made that if you like your plan, you can keep it, i think -- you know, i've said in interviews that there is no doubt that the way i put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate. it was not because of my
intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise. we put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient. keep in mind that the individual market accounts for 5% of the population. so when i said you can keep your health care, you know, i'm looking at folks who have employer-based health care, folks with medicare and medicaid. and that accounts for the vast majority of americans, and then, for people who don't have any health insurance at all, obviously that didn't apply. my commitment to them was, you'll be able to get the affordable health care for the first time. you have an individual market that accounts for about 5% of the population. and our working assumption was -- my working assumption was that the majority of those folks would find better policies at lower costs or the same costs in
the marketplaces, and that the universe of folks who potentially would not find a better deal in the marketplaces, the grandfather clause would work sufficiently for them. and it didn't. and, again, that's on us. which is why we're -- that's on me. and that's why i'm trying to fix it. and as i said earlier, i guess last week, and i will repeat, that's something that i deeply regret, because it's scary getting a cancellation notice. now, it is important to understand that out of that population, typically there is constant churn in that market. you know, this market is not very stable and reliable for people. so people have a lot of complaints when they're in that marketplace. as long as you're healthy, things seem to be going pretty good.
and so, a lot of people think, "i've got pretty good insurance," until they get sick, and then, suddenly, they look at the fine print, and they've got a $50,000 out-of-pocket expense that they can't pay. we know that on average over the last decade, each year, premiums in that individual market would go up an average of 15% a year. i know that, because when we were talking about health care reform, one of the complaints was, "i bought health care in the individual market, and i just got a notice from the insurer, they dropped me after i had an illness," or "my premium skyrocketed by 20%, 30%, why aren't we doing something about this"? part of what our goal has been is, make sure the individual market is stable and fair and has the kind of consumer protections that make sure the people don't get a rude surprise when they really need health insurance. but if you just got a
cancellation notice -- and so far, you're thinking, "my prices are pretty good," you haven't been sick, and it fits your budget, and now you get this notice, you're going to be worried about it. if the insurer is saying the reason you're getting this notice is because of the affordable care act, then you're going to be understandably aggravated about it. now, for a big portion of the people, the truth is they might have gotten a notice saying, we're jacking up your rates by 30%. they might have said, from here on out, we're not going to cover x, y, z illnesses. we're changing the -- because these were all 12-month policies. the insurance companies were under no obligation to renew the exact same policies that you had before. but, look, one of the things i understood when we decided to reform the health insurance market, part of the reason why it hasn't been done before, and it's very difficult to do, is
that anything that's gone on that's tough in the health care market, if you initiated a reform, can be attributed to your law. and so, what we want to do is to be able to say to these folks, you know what, the affordable care act is not going to be the reason why insurers have to cancel your plan. now, what folks may find is the insurance companies may still come back and say, we want to charge you 20% more than we did last year. or we're not going to cover prescription drugs now. but that will -- that's in the nature of the market that existed earlier. >> did you decide, sir, that the simple declaration was something the american people could handle, but the new stance you gave just now, is something that they couldn't handle? >> no, i think as i said earlier, major, my expectation
was that for 98% of the american people either it genuinely wouldn't change at all, or they'd be pleasantly surprised with the options in the marketplace. and that the grandfather clause would cover the rest. that proved not to be the case. and that's on me. and the american people -- those who got cancellation notices do deserve and have received an apology from me. but they don't want just words. what they want is whether we can make sure that they are in a better place and that we meet that commitment. and, by the way, i think it's very important for me to note that there are a whole bunch of folks up in congress and others who made this statement, and they were entirely sincere about it. and the fact that you've got this percentage of people who've had this, you know, impact, i want them to know that, you
know, their senator or congressman, they were making representations based on what i told them and what this white house and our, you know, administrative staff told them. so it's not on them, it's on us. but it is something we intend to fix. good. steve. >> do you have reason to believe that iran would walk away from nuclear talks if congress draws up new sanctions, and would a diplomatic breakdown at this stage leave you no option but military action? and how do you respond to your critics on the hill that says it was only tough sanctions that got iran to the table, tougher sanctions will make you capitulate? >> well, let me make a couple of points. number one, i said before and i will repeat, we do not want iran having nuclear weapons. and it would be not only dangerous to us and our allies, but it would be destabilizing to
the entire region and would trigger a nuclear arms race that could make life much more dangerous for all of us. our policy is, iran cannot have nuclear weapons, and i'm leaving all options on the table to make sure that we meet that goal. point number two. the reason we've got such ving russ sanctions is that i and my administration put in place, when i came into office, the international structure to have the most effective sanctions ever. and so, i think it's fair to say that i know a little bit about sanctions, since we set them up. and we made sure that we mobilized the entire international community so there weren't a lot of loopholes and they really had bite. and the intention in setting up those sanctions always was to bring the iranians to the table so that we could resolve this issue peacefully.
because that is my preference. that's my preference, because any armed conflict has costs to it, but it's also my preference because the best way to assure that a country does not have nuclear weapons is that they are making a decision not to have nuclear weapons, and we're in a position to verify that they don't have nuclear weapons. so as a consequence of the sanctions that we put in place, and i appreciate all of the help -- bipartisan help we received from congress in making that happen -- iran's economy has been crippled. they had a negative 5% growth rate last year. their currency plummeted. they're having significant problems in just the day-to-day economy on the ground in iran. and president rowhani made a decision that he was prepared to come and have a conversation with the international community
about what they could do to solve this problem with us. we've now had a series of conversations, and it has never been realistic we would resolve the entire problem all at once. what we have done is seen the possibility of an agreement in which iran would halt advances on its program, that it would dilute some of the highly enriched uranium that makes it easier for them to potentially produce a weapon, that they are subjecting themselves to much more vigorous inspections so that we know exactly what they're doing at all their various facilities, and that that would then provide time and space for us to test over a certain period of months whether or not they are prepared to actually resolve this issue to
the satisfaction of the international community. making us confident that, in fact, they're not pursuing a nuclear weapons program. in return, the basic structure of what's been talked about -- although not completed -- is that we would provide very modest relief at the margins of the sanctions that we've set up. but importantly, we would leave in place the core sanctions that are most effective and have most impact on the iranian economy, specifically oil sanctions and sanctions with respect to banks and financing. and what that gives us is the opportunity to test how serious are they, but it also gives us an assurance that if it turns out six months from now that
they're not serious, we can crank -- we can dial those sanctions right back up. so my message to congress has been that let's see if the short-term, phase-one deal can be completed to our satisfaction, where we're absolutely certain that while we're talking about the iranians they're not busy advancing their program. we can buy some additional months in terms of their breakout capacity. let's test how willing they are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully. we will have lost nothing if at the end of the day it turns out that they are not prepared to provide the international community the hard proof and assurances necessary for us to know that they're not pursuing a nuclear weapon. and if that's -- turns out to be
the case, then not only is our entire sanctions infrastructure still in place, not only are they still losing money from the fact that they can't sell their oil and get revenue from their oil as easily, even throughout these talks. but other options remain. but what i've said to the members of congress is that if, in fact, we're serious about trying to resolve this diplomatically -- because no matter how good our military is, military options are always messy, are always difficult, always have unintended consequences. and in this situation, are never complete in terms of making us certain that they don't then go out and pursue even more vigorously nuclear weapons in the future, if we're serious
about pursuing diplomacy, then there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective, and have brought them to the table in the first place. now, if it turns out they can't deliver, they can't come to the table in a serious way and get this issue resolved, the sanctions can be ramped back up, and we've got that -- we've got that option. all right. roger. roger, his birthday, by the way. so that's not the reason you got a question. but i thought it was important to note that. >> thank you. >> happy birthday. >> back to health care. can guarantee for the american people that the health care website is going to be fully operational for all people, not just the vast majority, by november 30? and second, more broadly, this
is your signature on this piece of legislation. >> right. >> you hear criticism on the hill that you and your white house team are too insulated. is that how this mess came to be? >> well, you know, i think there's going to be a lot of -- there's going to be a lot of evaluation of how we got to this point, and i assure you that i've been asking a lot of questions about that. the truth is that this is, number one, very complicated. the website itself is doing a lot of stuff. there aren't a lot of websites out there that have to help people compare their possible insurance options, verify income to find out what kind of tax credits they might get,
communicate with those insurance companies so that they can purchase, make sure that all of it's verified, right? so there's just a bunch of pieces to it that made it challenging, and you combine that with the fact that the federal government does a lot of things really well. one of the things it does not do well is information technology procurement. you know, this is kind of a systematic problem we have across the board. and, you know, it is not surprising then that there were going to be some problems. we have to ask ourselves some hard questions inside the white house, why we didn't see more of the problems coming earlier on. a, so we can set expectations. b, so that we could look for different ways for people to end up applying. so, you know, ultimately, you're right. this is something that's really important to me, and it's really
important to millions of americans who have been waiting for a really long time to try to get health care, because they don't have it. and, you know, i am very frustrated, but i'm also somebody who, if i fumbled the ball, you know, i'm going to wait until i get the next play in, and then i'll try to run as hard as i can, and do right by the team. you know, ultimately, i'm the head of this team. we did fumble the ball on it. and what i'm going to do is make sure that we get it fixed. in terms of what happens on november 30th or december 1st, i think it's fair to say that the improvement will be marked and noticeable. the website will work much better on november 30th, december 1st than it worked certainly on october 1st.
that's pretty low bar, so it will be working a lot better than it was last week, and it will be working better than it was this week. which means that the majority of people who go to the website will see a website that is working the way it's supposed to. i think it is not possible for me to guarantee that 100% of the people 100% of the time going on this website will have a perfectly seamless, smooth experience. we're going to have to continue to improve it, even after november 30th/december 1st. but the majority of people who use it will be able to see it operate the way it was supposed to. one thing that we've discovered, though, that i think is worth noting, a lot of focus has been on the website and the technology. and that's partly because that's how we initially identified it, you know, these are glitches.
what we're discovering is that part of the problem has been technology, hardware and software. and that's being upgraded. but even if we get the hardware and software working exactly the way it's supposed to, with relatively minor glitches, what we're also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy. and another mistake that we made, i think, was underestimating the difficulties of people purchasing insurance online and shopping for a lot of options with a lot of costs and a lot of different benefits and plans, and somehow expecting that that would be very smooth, and then they've also got to try to apply for tax credits on the website.
so what we're doing even as we're trying to solve the technical problems is also what can we do to make the application a little bit simpler? what can we do to make it in english as opposed to bureaucratese. are there steps that we can skip while still getting the core information that people need? and part of what we're realizing is that there are going to be a certain portion of people who are just going to need more help and more hand-holding in the application process. and so -- so i guess part of the continuous improvement that i'm looking at is not just a technical issue. it's also, can we streamline the application process? what are we doing to give people more assistance in the application process? you know, how do the call centers and the people who are helping folks in person, how are
they trained so that thing ds c go more smoothly? because ultimately, the bottom line is, i want people to know what their options are in a clear way. you know, buying health insurance is never going to be like buying a song on itunes. you know, it's just a much more complicated transaction. but i think we can continue to make it better, all of which is to say that on december -- or december 1st, november 30th, it will be a lot better, but there will still be some problems. some of those will not be because of technological problems, although i'm sure there will still be some glitches that have to be smoothed out, some of it's going to be how are we making this application process more user-friendly for folks. you know, one good example of
this, by the way, just to use an analogy, when we came into office, we heard a lot of complaints about the financial aid forms that families have to fill out to get federal financial aid. and i actually remember applying for some of that stuff and remember how difficult and confusing it was. and arnie duncan over at education worked with a team to see what we could do to simplify it, and it made a big difference. and that's part of the process that we've got to go through. and, in fact, if we can get some focus groups and we sit down with actual users and see, you know, how well is this working, what would improve it, what part of it didn't you understand, that all, i think, is part of the -- what we're going to be working on in the weeks ahead? >> what about the ancillary criticism you hear on -- >> yeah. you know, i -- i've got to say i meet with an awful lot of folks, and i talk to an awful lot of
folks every day, and i have lunches with ceos and i.t. venture capitalists and labor leaders you know, a whole bunch of life. and i think it's fair to say that -- a good track record on working with folks on technology and i.t. from our kwam pain, both in 2008 and 2012, did a pretty darn good job on that. so it's not that -- you know, the idea that we have access or interested in people's ideas, isn't accurate. what is true that, as i said before, our i.t. systems, how we
purchase technology if the federal government is cumbersome and outdated. this isn't a situation, let's figure out the best folks out there, and get them around a table, and we'll continue to refine it, improve it, and work on our dpogoals. if you're doing it at the federal government level, you're going through 40 pages of specs and all kinds of laws involved, and it makes it more difficult. it's part of the reason why chronically federal i.t. programs are overbudget, behind schedule. and one of the -- you know, when i do some monday morning quarterback on myself, one of the things that i do recognize is, since i know that the federal government has not been good at this stuff in the past. two years ago as we were thinking about this, you know,
we might have done more to make sure that we were breaking the mold on how we were going to be setting this up. but that doesn't help us now. we've got to move forward. jeff mason? >> thank you, mr. president. today's specs that you just announced leaves it up to state insurance commissioners and insurance companies to ultimately decide whether to allow policies to be renewed for a year. how confident are you that they will do that? and secondly, how concerned are you that this rollout may hurt democrats' chances in next year's midterm elections and your ability to advance other priorities such as immigration reform? >> yeah, on the first question, traditionally state insurance commissioners make decisions about what plans can be or cannot be sold, how they interact with insurers. what we're essentially saying is the affordable care act is not going to be the factor in what happens with folks in the individual market.
and my guess is, right away, you're going to see a number of state insurance commissioners exercise it. part of the challenge is the individual marks are different in different states. there's some states that have individual insurance markets that already have almost all of the consumer protections that the affordable care act does. they match up pretty good. it's not some big jump for folks to move into the marketplace. in others, they're pretty low standards. so you can tell pretty substandard plans in those markets, and that's where people might see a bigger jump in their premiums. so i think there's going to be some state-by-state evaluation on how this is handled. but the key point is that it allows us to be able to say to the folks who receive these notices, "look, you know, i, the president of the united states,
and the insurance -- the insurance model of the affordable care act is not going to be getting in the way of you shopping in the individual market that you used to have." now, as i said, there will still be some folks who over time, i think, are going to find that the marketplaces are better. one way i described this to -- i met with a group of senators when this issue first came up, and it's not a perfect analogy, but, you know, we made a decision as a society that every car has to have a seatbelt or airbags, and so you pass a regulation. and there's some additional costs, particularly at the start of increasing the safety and protections, but we make a decision as a society that the costs are outweighed by the benefits of all of the lives that are saved.
so what we're saying now is, if you're buying a new car, you have to have a seatbelt. well, the problem with the grandfather clause that we put in place is, it's almost like we said to folks, you have to buy a new car, even if you can't afford it right now. and sooner or later, folks will start trading in their old cars. but, you know, we don't need -- if their life circumstances are such where, for now, at least, they want to keep the old car, even if the new car's better, we should be able to give them that option. and that's what we want to do. and, by the way, that's what we should have been able to do in drafting the rules in the first place. so again, you know, these are two fumbles on something -- on a big game, which -- but the game's not over.
with respect to the politics of it, you know, i'll let you guys do a lot of the work on projecting what this means for various political scenarios. there is no doubt that our failure to roll out the aca smoothly has put a burden on democrats, whether they're running or not. because they stood up and supported this effort through thick and thin. and, you know -- you know, i feel deeply responsible for making it harder for them rather than easier for them to continue to promote the core values that
i think led them to support this thing in the first place, which is, in this country, as wealthy as we are, everybody should be able to have the security of affordable health care. and that's why i feel so strongly about fixing it. my first and foremost obligation is to the american people to make sure that they can get what's there if we can just get the darn website to work and smooth this thing out, which is plans that are affordable and allow them to take advantage of tax credits and give them a better deal. but i also do feel an obligation to everybody out there who supported this effort. you know, when we don't do a good job on the rollout, we're letting them down. you know, i don't -- i don't like doing that. so my commitment to them is, we're going to just keep on doing better every day until we get it done.
and in terms of the impact on me, i think to some extent i addressed it when i talked to julie, you know, there will be ups and downs during the course of my presidency. you know, i think i said early on when i was running, i am not a perfect man, and i will not be a perfect president. but i'll wake up every single day working as hard as i can on behalf of americans out there from every walk of life who are working hard, meeting their responsibilities, but sometimes are struggling because the way the system works isn't giving them a fair shot. and that pledge i haven't broken. that commitment, that promise continues to be -- continues to hold. the promise that i wouldn't be perfect, number one. but, also, the promise that as
long as i've got the honor of having this office, i'm going to work as hard as i can to make things better for folks. and what that means specifically in this health care arena is we can't go back to the status quo. i mean, right now, everybody is properly focused on us not doing a good job on the rollout, and that's legitimate, and i get it. there have been times where i thought we were -- got slapped around a little bit unjustly. this one's deserved, right in it's on us. but we can't lose sight of the fact that the status quo before the affordable care act was not working at all. if the health care system had been working fine and everybody had high-quality health insurance at affordable prices, i wouldn't have made it a priority. we wouldn't have been fighting this hard. to get it done.
which is why when i see sometimes folks up on capitol hi hill, and republicans in particular, who have been suggesting repeal, repeal, let's get rid of this thing, i keep on asking, what is it that you want to do? are you suggesting that the status quo was working? because it wasn't. and everybody knows that it wasn't working in the individual market, and it certainly wasn't working for the 41 million people who didn't have health insurance. and so, what we did was we chose a path that was the least disruptive to try to finally make sure that health care is treated in this country like it is in every other advanced country -- that it's not some privilege that just a certain portion of people can have, but it's something that everybody has some confidence about. and, you know, we didn't go far left and choose an approach that would have been much more
disruptive. we didn't adopt some more conservative proposals that would have been much more disruptive. we tried to choose a way that built off the existing system, but it is complicated, it is hard, but i make no apologies for us taking this on, because somebody sooner or later had to do it. i do make apologies for not having executed better over the last several months. >> you take that execution and the flaws in the rollout will affect your ability to do other things, like immigration reform, another policy that -- >> well, look, if it comes to immigration reform, you know, there is no reason for us not to do immigration reform. and we've already got strong bipartisan support for immigration reform out of the senate. you've got -- i met with a number of traditionally very conservative clergy who are deeply committed to immigration
reform. we've got the business community entirely behind immigration reform. so a bunch of constituency that are traditionally much more -- have leaned much more heavily toward the republicans who are behind this. so if people are looking for an excuse not to do the right thing on immigration reform, they can always find an excuse. we've run out of time. or this is hard. you know, the list goes on and on. but my assumption is people should want to do the right thing. when you have an issue that would strengthen borders, make sure that legal immigration system works the way it's supposed to, it would go after employers who are doing the wrong thing when it comes to hiring undocumented workers, and would allow folks who are here illegally to get right with the law and pay a fine and learn english and get to the back of the line.
but, you know, ultimately join fully our american community, when you've got a law that makes sense, you shouldn't be looking for an excuse not to do it. and i'm going to keep on pushing to make sure it gets done. am i going to have to do some work to rebuild confidence around some of our initiatives? yeah. but part of -- part of this job is the things that go right, you guys aren't going to write about. the things that go wrong get prominent attention. that's how it's always been. that's not unique to me as president. and i'm up to the challenge. we're going to get this done. all right? thank you, everybody. >> all right. that was the president announcing what the white house is calling an administrative fix to its affordable care act, what some others might frame damage control by the president today. mr. obama saying that those who have had their policies
cancelled will have the opportunity to renew them. he all but apologized for the continued issues with the website, as well. the president saying, "we fum e fumbled the rollout of the health care law." we'll take a quick break, and on the other side, we'll discuss the fallout for this president. we'll talk about what happens now for the insurance companies which have already reacted angrily to this fix from the president today. we'll have all of that and the major market implications, as well, on the other side of the short break. (vo) you are a business pro.
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>> reporter: sorry, i wasn't hearing you initially. look, i'm not sure how significant this is. the insurance industry is complaining bitterly about it, saying that it doesn't change anything, but puts blame on insurance companies. you heard the president say, what i'm doing with this fix is saying the affordable care act is not going to be responsible for anybody getting a cancelled policy, pointing toward, instead, state insurance commissioners and insurance companies, saying they can offer these plans in 2014 if they choose to. well, they have had that ability to extend plans into 2014 already. not sure how much of this is going to change. i think the administration is hoping it will buy time until they can get the website working properly. >> you also wonder, john, because the president says because of the issues, people didn't have a chance to notice all of the good that was a part of the aca. the question is, is that moment now permanently gone? >> no, it's not permanently gone. it's just been difficult. this is actually a perfect storm moment for it not to be the
case, because all of the people who are harmed by obama care know it and are screaming at the top of their lungs. and people who might be helped by it, because they either get better plans for less money or better plans and public subsidies can't find it out, because the website isn't able to tell them. i mean, some have gotten through. some have found it out. but many have not. so there's still some time to make this work, but certainly the administration's dug itself a hole, and that's what the president was acknowledging by saying we fumbled the ball. >> what do make of, john, your own report from earlier today, the insurance companies reacting angrily, called the whole thing a joke? >> reporter: absolutely. and they're saying that basically this is blame-shifting. it's not actually a fix, because it doesn't compel anybody to do anything. and the entire rate structure of the 2014 insurance market was changed by the aca. there's a formal statement that was just put out a few minutes ago by theri